Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Former Shadow, MLS standout Waibel takes RSL coaching post

After helping lead the University of Washington to its best season in program history this past fall in his first year with his alma mater, Spokane native and former Spokane Shadow PDL standout Craig Waibel was named as part of the assistant coaching staff for new Real Salt Lake head coach Jeff Cassar Wednesday.

The appointment marks the return to the league for Waibel, who spent 11 seasons in the league playing for the LA Galaxy, San Jose Earthquakes and Houston Dynamo before retiring in 2011 and joining the University of Michigan coaching staff.

“I’m very excited for Andy [Williams], Daryl [Shore], Paul [Dalglish] and Craig to join me as assistants,” Cassar said in the club news release. “Having such an experienced staff on board will help me in my first year as a head coach, and the unique characteristics that each of them bring to the table will help the team contend for another MLS Cup. Their backgrounds will also allow RSL to continue our unique position-specific coaching model, with Daryl primarily coaching the goalkeepers, Craig working with the defenders, Andy coaching the midfielders and Paul spending time with the forwards.”

Waibel will be put to work quickly as the MLS Combine kicks off Friday, January 10 and the MLS SuperDraft coming up the following week. In recapping Waibel's collegiate coaching experience, the news release eluded to his importance going into the next two weeks of scouting and team-building, saying "RSL will lean on Waibel’s extensive experience in the college game at next week’s 2014 MLS SuperDraft."

The news comes several weeks after Waibel made a cameo return to the league to participate in the Brian Ching Testimonial match in Houston, and just barely over a month after he was named the NSCAA Regional Assistant Coach of the Year for the Far West.

INWsoccernews featured a story on the Lewis & Clark High School graduate as the Huskies made their NCAA postseason run. The former Shadow standout had made his first soccer-related return to his hometown earlier in the season for a non-league game in which the Huskies narrowly edged the Gonzaga Bulldogs 1-0.

Waibel featured on 1998 Shadow program
The new coaching position will undoubtedly delay any further soccer-related visits to Spokane for the veteran defender.

"The Shadow and I are thrilled for Craig's coaching success so quickly after a lengthy and outstanding playing career," said Spokane Shadow EPLWA team General Manager Gerald Barnhart. "He showed a great intelligence on the field going all the way back to his Shadow years and it is no surprise he is using that to make the next generation of players better.

"Unfortunately, it also means our hopes of having Craig back in a Shadow kit - even for just one game - are definitely spoiled. When we previously discussed the re-launching of the men's team last fall, I posed the idea of him returning to the pitch for us and he was kind of open to the idea... so long as we gave him significant time to prepare for it. It would have certainly been a great moment for longtime Shadow fans, but it was only a part of the ideas and plans we have in mind for recognizing the club's history as we return to the field in 2014."